Super Mega Baseball is a video game that first released on the PlayStation 4 in 2014 by independent developer Metalhead Software, bringing some much needed competition to the baseball simulation market. This new version, called Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings, is an upgraded edition of the game with extra features that is now available for the Xbox One and PC. This is good news for Xbox owners who have had a tough time of getting hold of a decent baseball game in the last few years. In fact, there has only really been the poor R.B.I Baseball that has released recently, while PlayStation users have been able to get their hands on both Super Mega Baseball and MLB: The Show.
The first thing that you will notice when playing this title though is that it isn’t a traditional sports simulation. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it doesn’t look like a traditional sports simulation game thanks to the almost cartoony visuals and animations as well as the big heads of the athletes. It also doesn’t come with the MLB license, meaning that none of the official players or teams are available in the game – something that both Madden and FIFA have shown can be incredibly important to creating a popular sports franchise. All of this might lead you to the conclusion that Super Mega Baseball is simply a light hearted title that you might find in an arcade rather than a full-on and in-depth baseball game.
That couldn’t be further from the truth however. Metalhead Software have taken a different approach to most other developers in terms of the looks and feel of their game but they have certainly not created one that isn’t true to the sport that they are simulating. The most interesting aspect of all of this is how easy it is not just to pick up and play Super Mega Baseball but also how well it presents the basics of the game. This is essential to those who might not be completely up to speed with baseball, especially for those, like me, who are not from the United States and so do not have much experience with the sport.
To that end, I think that the lack of the MLB license has allowed the developer to concentrate solely on making a fun and interesting experience. Without having to stick with player appearances, drafts, trades and management roles, Metalhead Software have been able make the in-game action the most important aspect, giving the player the chance to jump straight in playing right from the off.
Baseball heavily relies on the battles between the pitcher and the batter and this is exactly where most of the gameplay takes place. Both systems are fairly easy to pick up and play and require very little practice before you are able to play. However, they take time to master and you slowly gain more proficiency as well as confidence as you play. Pitching takes the form of choosing one of a collection of throws and then try to get the reticule into the desired location. The more accurate you are with the reticule, the better the pitch will be while more complex selections require greater skill to pull off.
The same sort of system is in operation for batting, where the player has to move a reticule to where the ball is being pitched to and then time the strike to ensure that you hit the ball. You can also use a power hit that can blast the ball away with much more force but this too is much harder to get exactly right, coming with the risk of striking out or fouling. Overall, both pitching and batting are satisfying experiences that will definitely take you some time to fully master.
Super Mega Baseball also comes with a unique difficulty system that is called ego. It essentially allows player to handicap themselves or their opponents. A high ego means that you are very confident in your abilities and as such the game compensates by making it that much harder to throw perfect pitches, connect properly with the ball and field effectively. The ego settings can be changed for each individual aspect of gameplay, including pitching, batting and fielding, so that if you are particularly good at one thing but not quite as competent in other areas, you can still very much enjoy the game and still face a challenge across a full match.
This ego system also works in multiplayer too. This can help get rid of the frustration that can arise when one person is notably better than the others they are playing against. If you keep completely destroying your friends in matches then you can up your own ego to give them a better chance and make the game a bit fairer.
There is something of glaring omission to the multiplayer aspect though. In an era when online gaming has become such an important element of gaming and when so many players no longer want to play with their friends on the couch of their living room, it is baffling that some games now launch without online support. Super Mega Baseball isn’t alone in that respect, in fact several titles that I have reviewed over the past few months that have fun and very competent local multiplayer modes have failed to include any online multiplayer modes at all when it seemed almost silly not to.
If you are looking for a baseball game then you could do much worse than Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings. It combines an in-depth game system with a fun experience that sets it apart from many other sports simulation titles. Customization options and a well thought out “ego” system give it plenty of legs so you won’t get bored quickly